Tractor Taken for Joy Ride Damages Farmer's Property

Tractor Taken for Joy Ride Damages Farmer's Property
By: Carly O'Keefe

JACKSON COUNTY, Ill. - Farmers are prepared to handle the unknown: drought, floods or insects. But Tom Shields was not prepared for someone to steal a tractor and drive it through his farm and into a couple of his outbuildings.
Late Friday night or early Saturday morning, Sheilds says someone took his John Deere tractor for a joy ride and collided with his metal machine shed and grain bin three times in the process.
"He hit the bin with the front of the tractor, he must have turned when he hit this concrete part and ripped off the rim of the tire, and took off someplace else, around the corner," Shields said.
During the joy ride, the front right tire came off the rim, but the driver continued on his or her collision course.
"He hit that pretty square, he ran right straight into the corner, you can see the green of the tractor in the tin," said Shields pointing to a rear corner of his machine shed that's crumpled and dented four feet in from the outer wall.
As if all that damage wasn't enough, Shields says the vandal drove across the street and did a doughnut in his soy bean field.
"He probably run a half acre down, they're just on the ground and we don't be able to cut them or anything," said Shields. "The beans aren't as big a deal as the grain bin...The grain bin's the big issue now so I can use it this fall to put my crops in."
Luckily, the wild driver left behind more than just a mess.
"We did get some forensic evidence from the cab of the tractor that I believe is going to link us to a suspect.  We're hoping to make an arrest when the results of that evidence come back," said Jackson County Deputy Tim Bishop.
The culprit could face felony charges for criminal damage to property.  Shields faces a lot more work before he can start his harvest.
"I don't know if he was intoxicated or what, but he sure made a mess of things, I know that," said Shields.
Shields says this wasn't the first time someone "borrowed' his tractor for a joy ride. He says four years ago it was taken out and driven a couple of miles through several fields and parked right back in his shed.